For today’s browser spring cleaning, I will be offering several sets of links, grouped by topic.
I’m exploring the use of django for my next web project.
There’s a new Related Entries feature here at Full Speed today, courtesy of Adam Kalsey. You can see it in action below. It’s a quick, simple hack that uses MySQL’s fulltext queries and Brad Choate’s eternally useful MTSQL plugin. For the sake of documenting the way things work on this site, I will document the basic steps here.
1) Add a fulltext index to the mt_entry table:
2) Add the query to the individual entry archive template in MT:
SELECT entry_id, MATCH (entry_keywords, entry_title, entry_excerpt)
AGAINST ('[MTEntryKeywords encode_php='q'] [MTEntryTitle encode_php='q']')
WHERE MATCH (entry_keywords, entry_title, entry_excerpt)
AGAINST ('[MTEntryKeywords encode_php='q'] [MTEntryTitle encode_php='q']')
AND entry_id != '[MTEntryID]'
AND entry_blog_id = [MTBlogID]
ORDER BY score DESC
LIMIT 0 , 4"><li><a href="<MTEntryLink>">
I have been seriously neglecting the meta tags in my Movable Type blogs. In fact, other than the requisite content type declaration, I haven’t been using meta tags at all. That change today when I finally added entry excerpts into the meta descriptions.
After the first test, I noticed that there was a slight problem. If the excerpt contained quotes, they were not escaped in any way and invalidated the page. Brad Choate’s MT Regex plugin saves the day again:
<meta name="description" content="<$MTEntryExcerpt regex="dequote"$>" />
I’m working on hacking my implementation of Movable Type to interoperate with Pingback servers. If all is well, I should show up here. I’m hoping to get my Pingback implementation stuffed into a plugin before I’m finished.
Along with Movable Type 3.2 came a ton of new stylesheets from the good folks at Six Apart. And they even created a Style Library that lets you preview each of the new styles before downloading them. My favorite is Lilia Ahner’s Purple Crush. The library is AJAXified, so I haven’t found a way to link directly to the preview pages, but you will find Purple under the Bold Palettes category. For those of you using standard templates on your Movable Type blog, be sure to check out these great new templates.
Almost two months after I prematurely declared that Movable Type 3.2 was released, it is now here. Six Apart has the details. I actually saw Anil’s announcement first. But it was Brad’s post that really sparked my attention today:
The just-released Movable Type 3.2 includes both an OpenID server and consumer plugin. They’re not enabled by default, but this is a good first step.This seems like a step in the right direction. I know what I will be doing tonight.
Movable Type 3.2 has been portrayed as a worthwhile upgrade. It adds some neat new features. But today, I found out about a killer feature that makes me want this update now: better comment management.
And we’re not just talking about a minor improvement to the existing comment management functionality. We’re talking about a revolutionary change. HTML email notifications! And from within those notifications, you can read the comment, edit the comment, approve it, or delete it. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that. This is a huge time saver.
Now here’s the only problem: To my knowledge, this feature hasn’t been announced for MT 3.2 yet. It’s just a new TypePad feature. If you are listening, Six Apart, please add this in 3.2!
This new release is full of new features. Trackback moderation is finally here! There is also a Junk folder where hopefully all of the trackback and comment spams will appear —- instead of appearing on the blog. Feedback Rating is another new feature. Think of this as SpamAssassin for your blogs’ comments and trackbacks —- all built-in. The System Overview provides a high-level view of the entire MT installation, spanning all blogs.
In all, there are 32 new features. This should be a very impressive release.
Update: It seems that the new software isn’t actually out yet. 6A is just hyping the new release at this point. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Adding to the already excellent collection of Power Tools for Movable Type, the Tags Power Tool was released today. Think Flickr/del.icio.us meets blogs. I expect to see some interesting development coming out of this.
Also on the Movable Type front, a workflow plugin has been released. This fills one of the few remaining voids in making MT into a serious CMS.
OK, so I finally got off my duff and upgraded the site to MT 3.121 today. I haven’t heard anybody complaining about problems with the recent versions, so I think the 3.x series is probably stable enough for this site now. Not that stability was preventing me from upgrading, though. That was procrastination mixed with a bit of fear.
Browsing the site itself, I don’t notice a single difference. Of course, that’s what I expected since everything MT generates for me is static. But the new admin interface is really slick. The Six Apart crew did a great job a making this app even easier to use.
There are definitely some known CSS deficiencies on the site. Those are my fault. Hopefully I’ll get all of those worked out later this afternoon.
That’s all for now. If you notice any errors, please leave a comment on this post to let me know. My contact form is still not operational, so that will have to do.
Update: Thanks to Brian for pointing out a missing template in the new config. Search results look cleaner now, too.
I’ve been getting messages for at least a couple of weeks now about the mysterious Six Apart developer network. And today there was a blog post about it. But these messages keep restating the same thing. They keep telling me that someday soon I’ll get an email telling me how I can sign up for this network. They tell me about the perks and discounts that I’ll get in somewhat unspecific terms. What’s a “developer discount for a free commercial license”? Why would you need a discount on something that’s being given as free? I know that the good people at 6A realize that they have had some communication issues in the recent past, but it’s about time they start fixing these problems. They are losing customers daily, and better communication is the only thing that is going to save them.
Here’s my message to Six Apart Ltd.: Get that developer program out the door ASAP. Your developers are your most important resource. They are the ones who will push your wares. If you don’t help them, Matt will gladly help them switch to WP.
I remember examining the code for the Optional-Redirect plugin when it first was released. It was short and simple. I should easily be able to build my own version of this plugin if it doesn’t work out of the box with MT3.
In the mean time, I fired up a new blog on the free version of MT3 this afternoon. My initial reaction is that MT3 looks a lot like TypePad. The colors are the same. I haven’t ever used the CMS interface of TypePad, but I would be willing to wager that it is very similar. And the name has changed, too. Instead of being a “Personal Publishing System”, it’s now “Movable Type Publishing Platform”. I suppose that goes well with the pricing structure that so many are upset about.
With the recent announcement of the Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition, the blog world is buzzing with all kinds of recommendations for switching away from MT. I’m not sure whether this site will remain on MT 2.661, upgrade to the 3.0 “Personal Edition” for $49.95, or switch to one of the alternatives. But what I do know is that many of the preferred alternatives are lacking a major feature that MT has gotten right from the start (for me, at least).
That feature is comment previews. Textpattern and WordPress both seem to be excellent blog management systems. Perhaps either would even be qualified to be described as a full-blown CMS. But none of the sites I’ve visited that use these wares have preview functionality for their comments.
We all make mistakes. That’s why we have spell checkers. MS Word has had that feature for well over ten years now. A blog without comment preview is like a word processor without a spell checker. The result is that comments get posted to the site with errors. Or that quick bit of typing doesn’t read properly once you see it posted. Preview, when used properly, eliminates a lot of these errors. It also eliminates the followup “oops” posts.
Now I’m sure that there are ten free blog packages out there that offer this functionality, but all of the MT haters today seem to be mentioning WordPress and Textpattern. Personally, I’d rather spend my $50 than use a package that is missing such essential functionality.
There is, however, one more thing that I should mention: Jon Hicks’ excellent Live Comment Previews. Visit a recent post on Jon’s site to see this in action. It’s very slick. Perhaps Dean or Matt would be interested in adopting something such as this in their default comment templates?
Update: It turns out that Textpattern has preview already. I’m not sure why I thought it was missing. And WordPress 1.2 was just released with a new preview feature. It’s good to see more people paying attention to previews.
While it’s great to see the creators of Movable Type working on new technology, it seems that most of their users are not happy with the proposal of a centralized service for authenticating commentors.
Update: There was a minor bug with 1.5. Version 1.5.1 has been released to correct the problem.
I have just installed David Raynes’ Optional-Redirect Plugin for Movable Type. Comment author links no longer behave in the 2.661 way. They work as they should—-that is, they link directly. While I understand the nature of this change that Six Apart made to MT, I don’t agree with it. Redirects are slow and destroy Google juice. There are better ways to fight spam.
There has been quite a bit of talk about preventing weblog comment spam lately. Jeremy Zawodny and David Sifry have each come up with similar solutions for automatically turning off comments on older posts. While both of these solutions work perfectly well, I wanted something that was a bit more integrated with MT. I wanted MT to handle the updates to the older entries.
So today it dawned on me that Brad Choate’s MTSQL plugin was exactly what I needed to make this happen. Since the plugin allows the execution of arbitrary SQL statements, I can now make a template that will shut down comments and pings on my older posts.
Once you have MTSQL installed, create an index template with contents similar to the following:
set entry_allow_comments = 2,
entry_allow_pings = 0
where entry_created_on <= date_sub(CURDATE(), interval 7 day)
and entry_blog_id = 2
Be sure to check the box next to “Rebuild this template automatically when rebuilding index templates”. With this option enabled, this query will be executed each time you save an entry.
I prefer this method to the previously mentioned methods because I feel it is more inline with the way MT works. Nothing happens unless it is in response to my actions. The other solutions require a cron job to work automatically. I have no problems with cron—-I just prefer this integrated approach.
One problem that remains unsolved by Jeremy’s, David’s, or my solution is that closed entries will still show their comment forms. The presence of the comment form does not allow comments, but it is misleading. A user might type in a long rant only to be disappointed by a mesage stating that comments for the entry are closed once he clicks the Post button.
An entry must be rebuilt before the comment form will be removed from its page. There are a couple of ways to make this happen. One option is to simply rebuild your entire blog from within MT. Another option is to use Timothy Appnel’s mt-rebuild script to rebuild the blog. This script will rebuild individual pages or the entire blog from the command line. If you’re serious about closing down comments, I’d suggest setting up a cron job to run this script. And if anyone knows of a way to avoid the cron job and just execute a rebuild from within an MT template, I’d love to hear about it.
I’ve been hosting my own websites for quite some time now. Probably the last 7-8 years. Whether they were run on the servers of companies that I worked for or my own servers, I always had full control of the server. But it seems that many in the weblog world use web hosting companies for their blogs. I’ve read about horror stories getting Movable Type installed. It was simple for me, having root access to all of my servers. In fact, I set up a fully-redundant, distributed architecture for this site in under an hour. I suppose I’m out of touch with those who use the standard web hosting services. Perhaps I should host other people’s blogs on my servers for a nominal fee since it’s so easy for me to setup. Would anyone be interested in something like that?
Kevin Davis has written a series of articles on using XML and XSLT templates with Movable Type. (Thanks Simon!) In the initial sample, Kevin had some problems with the HTML inside an entry body being rendered in Mozilla. That problem has since been solved. Check out this great sample!
Dylan Tweney wrote an interesting article about using PHP to spiff up your MT blogroll. I’ve already incorporated this partially into my site. The gist of the article is that you create an additional blog which contains one blogroll link for each entry. The index page for that blog is then pulled into your main blog’s index with a PHP-based include. Very slick!
I just discovered Zempt this past weekend. In short, it’s totally changing the way I post to my site.
First off, since it runs on my PC instead of on my web server, it’s a lot faster than Movable Type’s web interface. Sure, there are other tools that have similar functionality, but I haven’t been happy with them.
Second, it’s got spell check! Hopefully this will take care of the inevitable typos that plague my postings.
And my favorite feature of this tool is the Preview functionality. The preview isn’t anything special—it’s just showing my simple markup in a basic HTML control. But it’s far faster than MT’s web interface. This is a major plus for me.
And lastly, Zempt will be a multi-platform app as soon as the next release is available—Linux support is due in version 0.4. Mac support is also supposed to show up in 0.5. I can’t wait!
If you’re looking for a better tool for posting to Movable Type, be sure to check out Zempt.